Ramses Shaffy

Ramses Shaffy (August 29 1933) is a Dutch singer, chansonnier, and actor. He became popular during the 1960s. His most famous songs include Zing, vecht, huil, bid, lach, werk en bewonder (Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire), We zullen doorgaan (We will go on), Pastorale, Sammy and Laat me (Leave me be). He frequently collaborated with Dutch singer Liesbeth List.

Shaffy was born in Paris, in the suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine. His father was an Egyptian diplomat, his mother was a Polish duchess from Russian descent. He grew up with her in Cannes. When she was infected with tuberculosis, Shaffy was sent to an aunt in Utrecht. Eventually, he ended up in a foster family in Leiden.

He did not finish high school, but he was accepted at the Amsterdam school of theatre arts in 1952. In 1955, he made his debut with the Nederlandse Comedie. He went to Rome in 1960 with his lover Joop Admiraal, aspiring a career as a film actor. Eventually, they returned without success. In 1964, Shaffy founded the theatre group Shaffy Chantant, which led to his first collaborations with Liesbeth List. He also worked together with Dutch pianist Louis van Dijk. Among others, Thijs van Leer was a member of the group for a short period of time. With Liesbeth List, he recorded the classic song Pastorale.

His hit Wij zullen doorgaan was parodied by comedian André van Duin in 1975.

In the 1980s, Shaffy returned to the stage and the set as an actor. He played Don Quixote in the musical De man van La Mancha (The man from La Mancha) in 1993. Pieter Fleury made a documentary about Shaffy in 2002, titled Ramses. It won a Golden Calf, the award of the Netherlands Film Festival. The film shows Shaffy's life as a somewhat confused, shaky old man in a rest home in Amsterdam. Many years of extensive alcohol abuse are the main cause of his deteriorated condition. Some say he suffers from Korsakoff's syndrome, but this was never diagnosed by the doctors.

Shaffy's condition slightly improved in the years following the film. His memory improved and he sometimes makes public appearances again. In the fall of 2005 he re-recorded his 1978 hit song Laat me, together with Liesbeth List and the band 'Alderliefste', which became a minor hit.


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